I just purchased a HP ZR24W after reading several reviews for IPS monitors. I am a novice photographer and have never done any monitor calibration or owned an IPS panel before. I have a 2009 13 inch Macbook Pro with OSX Snow Leopard running on it.

I hooked the monitor up to the Macbook and thankfully even though the HP CD did not have any OSX drivers the monitor was set up correctly with the correct resolution. I have to say the default setting was pretty good for image viewing. But I guess to get the best out of the monitor I need to make some changes.

Hardware calibration seems the obvious option but I have spent all of my budget on this monitor and can't get one in the near future. So, I'm stuck with software and manual calibration.

Can anyone help me as to how to do this via software or changing the various controls manually in the monitor? Any tutorial or best practices would help me immensely.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Note, it doesn't matter if your display is IPS or TN, visual calibration will work the same(it might just turn out better on a IPS panel). \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Aug 12, 2011 at 15:00

2 Answers 2


First I want to make sure that the importance of proper hardware calibration is understood. Your eyes are not perfect(mine especially) and you can certainly give it a shot to determine the best brightness, tint, gamma, etc. but you are not going to be nearly as spot on as a dedicated piece of hardware. In reading you will find that as the display gets older, it becomes more out of sync with the correct values, and hardware calibration becomes more important. So even if you can't afford it now, down the road it is still a good investment.

So onwards to how to actually do a visual calibration. You are in luck, because OS X actually has a utility built in to do exactly what you want - Display Calibrator Assistant. To find this utility all you have to do is open up System Preferences, then the Displays app, click on the Colors Tab, and you will see an option for Calibrate. From that option, make sure you are in expert mode, follow the instructions, and you are on your way to visual monitor calibration bliss.

Other options exist that are not included with OS X. You may even receive one with your monitor as part of its software package. A popular option is a shareware program SuperCal.

If you are looking for a tutorial on how to use the built in Calibrate tool from Apple you can find that here.


Hardware calibration is often regarded as an expensive option. There are relatively inexpensive solutions out there, however. For example the Pantone Huey PRO. It may or may not be as good as other hardware solutions but it's $100USD, so it doesn't break the bank the way some other calibration tools do.

All the software solutions rely on you commenting on your perception of what the monitor is displaying. Hardware solutions simply measure the result without any subjectivity injected, so they are generally more reliable.

What I'm saying is that, as you have recognized the importance of calibration, you should at least consider the hardware alternatives available once your budget does have a free $100.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Or find a friend who is also interested, and it's $50. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Aug 12, 2011 at 22:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm - Some of the lens/body rental shots also rent calibration tools. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Aug 13, 2011 at 17:02

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